All posts for the month March, 2015

It was our coldest leg yet. With the exception of one day, I left every morning wearing every layer I brought and some days, kept them on all day.

And our most miles by far of any previous leg. Brian and I planned it that way. I am anxious to click this ‘DONE’ on my bucket list. I don’t want something to happen to me, healthwise, that prevents me fom finishing this adventure.

Adventure Cycling maps had a warning about loose dogs in Louisiana. We encountered none. East Texas and Mississippi were another story. I will never understand why people leave their dogs loose and go off to work all day. The houses/trailers where the dogs charged/chased us, noone ever came out and called their dogs off.

Mississippi has hills, steep ones. I had to use my granny gear on several occasions. Never expected that after East Texas and Louisiana were flat.

Mark observed that every few miles you pass a church, mostly Baptist. Back home, you pass a bank and a drug store every few miles. I am not sure what the significance is.

Having my son Matt join us for the second half of L5 was such a blessing. He set the pace, planned the last day’s route into Mobile, pulled the draft line when we encountered stiff headwinds, and, most of all, knew what to do when Brian started breaking spokes. I don’t know what we would have done without you. I hope you can join us for L6. What do you think Steph?

No FINAL THOUGHTS would be complete without a shoutout for the “Sag Lady”. Another great job by Beth. Even tho you couldn’t post as much because of your work load, your constant attention to our needs was much appreciated. Hopefully we don’t encounter any ‘dry counties’ in Florida. I know you were more flustered that the bikers. Again, “Great Job”.

Today was really cold – it was maybe 30 degrees when we left the Holiday Inn Express at just about 8 a.m.  I thought today’s ride was one of the prettiest rides of this whole leg.  We passed about a dozen nurseries, a turf farm, and a couple of cotton fields that looked liked they’d already been planted.  And some of the properties along the roads were absolutely gorgeous!  Sorry I don’t have any photos of our ride (maybe Mark or Matt posted some), but it was just too cold for most of the ride to stop and take photos.  Plus, in general, I think we all just wanted to get to Mobile, which we did by 11:50 a.m.  So we rode 47 miles in just under 4 hours.  We only got chased one by a few dogs in Mississippi, so we were feeling neglected after not getting chased by any dogs in Alabama! 🙂

Riding through Mobile to the downtown section was really nice – the Universities, schools, churches and especially the homes reminded me of other Southern cities I have visited, including New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah.  Mobile is really nice – in fact the highlight of the trip for me was touring the downtown portion with Beth after having lunch.  So here are some of the photos, once we had made it into Mobile.

Waiting in the lobby of the Hampton Inn and Suites for Beth to arrive from Lucedale, MS

Waiting in the lobby of the Hampton Inn and Suites for Beth to arrive from Lucedale, MS.  We actually were happier to have made it to Mobile than this photo makes it seem.

Outside view of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile, AL.  Savannah has a Catholic Cathedral in its historical section also, which is another reason that Mobile reminded me of Savannah.

Outside view of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile, AL. Savannah has a Catholic Cathedral in its historical section also, which is another reason that Mobile reminded me of Savannah.

View of the altar in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Mobile, AL

View of the altar in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Mobile, AL

Top of the altar in Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Mobile, AL

Top of the altar in Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Mobile, AL

Historical Marker in Cathedral Square, telling the history of the Archdiocese of Mobile, AL

Historical Marker in Cathedral Square, telling the history of the Archdiocese of Mobile, AL

Beth, Courtyard and Portions of Fort Conde, Mobile, AL

Beth, Courtyard and Portions of Fort Conde, Mobile, AL

Another view of Beth and the Courtyard interior of Fort Conde, Mobile, ALBeth, Courtyard and Portions of Fort Conde, Mobile, AL.

Beth, Courtyard and Portions of Fort Conde, Mobile, AL.  Satchel Paige was born in Mobile and although Jackie Robinson was the first black to make it to Major League Baseball, Satchell was the first black elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Photo of Satchel Paige in the Visitor Center of Fort Conde Historic Park.  Satchel Paige was born in Mobile and although Jackie Robinson was the first black to make it to Major League Baseball, Satchell was the first black elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

After Beth and I did our walking tour of the historic district of Mobile (we also visited the Museum of Mobile, which was really good!) we went back to our rooms at the Hampton Inn.  I disassembled and packed up my bike (in 72 minutes – another new record for me!) and then took a quick shower before we all met up in the lobby.  Beth and I had made reservations for all 5 of us at the Royal Scam Restaurant, the same place we went to for lunch, just down the street from our hotel.  All our dinners were excellent, and afterward we went back to Beth’s room to drink the rest of the wine and eat the rest of the chocolates we had purchased in one of the many Wal-Marts we visited on this leg.

Chocolate and wine party in Beth's room after dinner at the Royal Scam Restaurant, Mobile, AL

Chocolate and wine party in Beth’s room after dinner at the Royal Scam Restaurant, Mobile, AL

Tomorrow (Saturday 3/7) we all get up really early (3:45 a.m.) to get to the airport for our 6:00 a.m. flights out of Mobile.

After biking 637 miles on this leg, I feel that we accomplished quite a lot completing a leg of the trip that would have been challenging even if the weather had been nice.  Having Matt along with us was great!  I hope he will be able to join us for some or all of the last leg, and I hope my son Chris will be able to join us also!

This morning I had to try the biscuits and gravy. They’re good fuel for riding. I had nutritional stuff too, like sausage and bacon and bagels with cream cheese. It’s great eating whatever you want so you don’t lose too much weight riding a bicycle everyday. But you know I can’t wait for Big Hols food again.
Today it was 27 degrees but sunny and at the end I think it reached 37. Remember the episode where Joey puts on all the clothes? That’s what I did this morning with all the bike stuff I own. I had two hats on, as well as four layers under my lime green windbreaker and I put plastic bags over my socks inside my shoes which were covered with bootties. I was fine but I would rather be too hot any day than ride in the cold.

We had one last dog chase us out of Mississippi but he was really just running with us and barking, not actually attacking. It’s happened enough that we can read the dogs now. The ride in Alabama was free of dogs. No excitement at all.

We have finished this section and next year sometime we will begin here where we left off and make all the way to St. Augustine, Florida. After the first few days, the ride improved or maybe it was my attitude. Having Matt helped as he loves to ride in the cold and nothing seems to bother him. We loved having him join the Brothers and I hope he can join us next year along with any other nieces or nephews. The more the merrier.

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A cold start to a sunny day with the wind either at our backs or a cross wind. Got chased by dogs one last time in Mississippi, a fitting end to our time in that state. It continued to be hilly until we entered Alabama. No dogs chased us after we entered Alabama. Riding into Mobile turned out to be relatively easy. We are staying at a nice hotel in the historic district near the Mobile River.

I’ve never been to New Orleans but Mark and Brian both said it has the same type of feel but much more drivable. Since our ride today was only 47 miles we had plenty of time to do some sight seeing. Matt and I enjoyed the Museum of Mobile which traces its histiry since it was founded around 1703 by the French. It was later a Spanish colony, and a British colony until after the Revolutionary War. Of course, there is a lot of Civil War history and how badly it suffered during Reconstruction. Alot of the museum was devoted to the struggle for racial equality.

Well the bikes are all packed and we all have 6am flights from the Mobile Airport that we passed on the ride into the city. Can’t wait for that 4am wake up call. Total mileage for this leg was 638.

Chain lube

I don’t know if it was the fried catfish dinner or the lack of beer (Lucedale, where we stayed, is in a dry county – and yes, there was a lot of headscratching about how that happened and mental notes to make sure it never happens again), but the chainsaw failed to start last night and I slept like a baby since there was no snoring! Yippee!

The extra rest was great and came in handy today since it was the coldest start for me (27 degrees), and the first part of the ride was pretty hilly. My left knee has had enough riding for now, so the hills were no fun at all until the Advil kicked in. The cold was tough, but having sun instead of rain makes all the difference, and we had a great tailwind for good stretches of the ride today, making the 47 miles into Mobile glide by. We passed a lot of plant nurseries (tons of flowers and bushes coming to a Home Depot near you soon), a couple of sod farms, and a lot of open fields. Compared to yesterday’s ride which wound through a National Forest of beautiful long leaf pines, today’s scenery was comparatively boring but the ride was nice because we were entirely on back roads and only got chased but one dog (and even he gave up quickly without meeting Mark’s pedal). Just like yesterday where we rode across basically the entire state of Mississippi without a single stoplight, we had none again today until we hit the outskirts of Mobile.

We crossed a dam at the southern end of a big reservoir which had whitecaps from the whipping cold wind from the north and quickly rolled into the outer parts of Mobile where the speed of traffic picked up and the distance cars gave when passing dropped precipitously. Not at all unpleasant, but I would have liked to ride down along Mobile Bay instead which is the normal cycling route. We did ride past an impressive Univeristy of South Alabama campus (it looked brand new – and very sports oriented!) and then through some beautiful stately homes on Dauphin Street, the “Historical Row,” as we got to downtown and historic Mobile. It’s an interesting city with some really nice and revitalized blocks mixed in with tougher areas, and it seems like a city headed in the right direction to me. We rolled up to the Hampton Inn just before noon and were able to get an early check in which was great since we boxed up our bikes, showered and had a great lunch of burgers and beer.

Mark, dad and I drove to see how they could bike back out of Mobile to start the next leg and it became quickly obvious that there was no good option. It looks like they’ll want to start L6 at the foot of the ferry or just on the other side of the Bay to avoid a lot of headaches (hint, hint!). Dad and I hit the Free Mobile Museum next door to the hotel for a quick walk through and I wish we’d had more time. Oh well. We have obscenely early (6am) flights and I am dreading the 3am wake up tomorrow. But I can’t wait to see Steph and the kids in person. FaceTime has been nice, but hugs and kisses are way better!

View from the back of Tim, Mark and Matt's cabin at Shallow Fork Lake and Cabins.

View from the back of Tim, Mark and Matt’s cabin at Shallow Fork Lake and Cabins.





We spent a wonderful night in the swallow fork cabins and now we are 1 mile into our ride on Thursday morning sitting in a Hardee’s waiting out the rain. Everyone loved the shrimp spaghetti that we made on the salad that we had for dinner last night. Let me tell you it’s hard to enter a blog post on your iPhone and Hardee’s restaurant. But I wasn’t able to do it last night because there was no Internet and I had to test Beth on a name that tune contest of classic rock from the 70s. Let me tell you she knows her stuff. She even stumped me a bunch of times on old 70 stuff.  Today’s ride might be the hardest one were going to attempt. Matt is amazed at how fast I can type while posting this blog. Alright let’s try to add some media into this post.

Truthfully, it just worked out that way. There wasn’t a safe road heading east, so we took to the back roads which headed southeast. The wind was out of the north so we had tail winds today from time to time.

The weather definitely changed during the night. Compared to yesterday’s morning temps in the 70’s when we started, today was 46, with temps falling into the 30’s (wind chill wise) when the ride finished. A longer day than expected, partly because we had to wait out the rain 3 miles into the ride, at a Hardees fast food place, for about 45 minutes. The people were very friendly, with lots of questions and concerns.

I have no idea why but the main roads in Mississippi have no paved shoulders. Our strategy to stick to the main roads to shorten the distance and avoid unchained and unfenced dogs went out the window today. The ride was longer than we wanted and we got chased by dogs. I’m sure someone else will recount a few of the more memorable dog episodes of the day. For some reason, I was never the primary target which was okay with me.

This is our last night in Mississippi. Tomorrow is our last day of riding and we enter Alabama, our seventh state and another one I’ve never visited. In honor of Mississippi, I ordered fried catfish for dinner tonight. Can;t say I’ll order it again. Done that.

We left the motel in short sleeve shirts, that’s how warm it was at 8am. And it got warmer as the day went on. By the end of the day, temps were in the 80’s. We finally got a huge influx of vitamin D and all of us got a little sunburn. It feels good after the winter we’ve been having back home. Speaking of which, I do feel bad Marcia’s been dealing with alot of winter wheather while I’ve been away. And there is more on the way, we hear.

We crossed the border into Mississippi and were surprized by no shoulders on main roads. Shifted back to Adventure Cycling maps after about four miles. It would have been impossible to stay on Rt. 26 with no shoulder, rumble strips on the white line and logging trucks every few minutes. One good thing about loaded logging trucks passing is you get a wiff of Christmas every time they pass you in the same direction.

Our accomodations were a couple of cabins at the edge of some woods, a little miles north of Poplarville, MS. Mark cooked a great pasta dinner following directions/recipe provided by Holly. Our entertainment was a herd of cows that were being herded by a four wheel ATV. Two of them kept inching their way over to the porch of our cabin to check us out. They stared at us, moved a few steps closer, stared some more, moved a few steps closer and stared some more. After about twenty minutes, they lost interest and moved on. If they had come all the way up to the fence, which was only 15 feet from the porch we were sitting on, today’s blogs would be filled with a couple of cow snouts. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

My biggest surprize concerning Mississippi, it is HILLY. Totally unexpected after flat east Texas and flat Louisiana. Whenever I have to spell Mississippi, I remember taking the kids on the ferry back from lower Manhatten to Staten Island. We were surrounded by standing businessmen totally engrossed in reading their Wall Street Journals. Mike was maybe 6 years old and he kept spelling M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-PP to Mary and saying “Get it Mary, PP, get it Mary”. It was hilarious with all these businessmen seemingly oblivious to these little kids yucking it up with potty humor. I guess you had to be there.

What a great day for cycling!!! The owner of the B&B gave us a send off, apologizing for Monday’s rain, as we started on the day’s ride. It was a foggy start but soon burned off. We were peeling layers at our first couple rest stops. Matt quickly got the hang of our riding schedule, we stop every ten to fifteen miles for a little break to take care of nature calls and eat and drink to stay fueled up. There is absolutely no concern about the intake of too many calories.

Don’t ask me why, but the singing bug got into us. We were each belting out songs, usually only one verse or so because that is about all we can remember of the lyrics. Mile after mile, we were singing away, usually with more than one joining in when we could figure out what the song was. We weren’t always in tune so sometimes it took a little longer than others, Brian. Oops I swore I wasn’t going to name names.

I saw my first couple historical markers in Jackson, LA. That’s a huge difference from Texas where there seems to be a historical marker every five miles or so. Maybe LA isn’t as proud of their history as Texans are. The marker I read described a revolution for independence (the second on American soil) where the local Anglo Saxon settlers revolted against the Spanish government and captured the local governor. They were an independant government, called the “Independant Free State of West Florida” for about 75 days. American troops arrived and they were annexed to the US, which is probably what they wanted all along.

By the end of the ride, we were all in shorts and short sleeve biking shirts for the first time this leg. Temps were in the 70’s. After hot showers to get the road grit off our legs from the early morning fog, we were ready for dinner and mapping out tomorrow’s route. Beth picked up some Breath Right so we’ll see if Matt can get some sleep tonight.

It was 70 degrees when we went to bed last night, but we knew from the forecast that it was going to be in the mid-forties when we set off today. Nevertheless, opening that door this morning and feeling the freezing cold wind on my sunburn was still a shock. It had also started raining overnight and at times the rain was really coming down and was coupled with some very gusty winds.

After our short stint on the shoulder-less MS26 highway yesterday we knew that we needed to change the route the guys had planned to Lucedale (since that was what they were planning to ride the whole way!). We decided to instead follow the ACA bike route which would take us to Vancleaf about 30 miles south of our hotel for the night in Lucedale. Beth would then come get us and shuttle us up to the hotel.

We rolled out of the cabins at about 8am as usual in a steady drizzle that picked up as we rode the couple of miles into Poplarville for breakfast. We chatted with a bunch of local residents who all could not be more friendly or interested in the brothers crazy escapade as we watched the radar and waited for the heavy rain to pass. It has been really refreshing to me to see how friendly everyone here has been to us and to each other. Everything from the wait staff at Hardee’s make small talk with us and the other customers, the drivers who give us as much room as possible when passing after waiting for a safe place to do so, and the drivers heading the other way who inevitably wave and smile. It is nice to remember that life doesn’t have to be as harried as we make it I the northeast (and I’m as guilty of that as anyone).

While the people here are as friendly as can be, the dogs need to learn some tolerance. Mark gave one a swift pedal to the head today, but I’ll let him tell that story. In short, my head was on a swivel all day and we got chased several times. And I mean chased. Not run to the edge of the yard and bark. I mean dogs running down the road after us as we sprinted away. They seemed to mostly go for me and Mark and were tired out by the time dad and Brian rode past. You guys are welcome.

The cold today was tough since it dropped down to about 40 and seemed to just stay there right through the early afternoon. We had some light rain off and on in the morning but we eventually got to dry roads about 30 miles into the ride. There were a lot of rolling hills in the beginning but the road gradually flattened out, and it did finally warm up a little. But that was at about 55 miles in and we were all pretty chilled at that point. We were also then battling a very strong cross wind that literally had me leaning into it at times to stay on a straight line. We rolled into Vancleaf after 75 or so tough miles and hoppped in the van for the ride to the hotel. A hot shower may have never felt so good!

I have awesome pictures, but I’m catching flak for my editing/ technical issues so you’ll just have to use your imaginations. Yes, they really do look fine on my iPad…!